An avalanche is a rapid down slope flow of snow or ice in hilly or mountainous areas with enduring snowpack. These are triggered spontaneously by increased precipitation or snowpack weakening, or by external means such as humans, animals, and earthquakes. Primarily composed of flowing snow, and air, large avalanches have the capability to capture, and move ice, rocks, and trees. These devastate anything that comes in their path.
Avalanches generally occur in two general forms, or some combinations thereof; (i) slab avalanches that are composed of tightly packed snow, triggered by a collapse of an underlying weak snow layer, and (ii) loose snow avalanches comprising of loose snow.
After being set off, avalanches usually accelerate rapidly, and grow in mass, and volume by capturing more snow. If an avalanche moves fast enough, some of the snow may mix with the air, forming a powder snow avalanche.
Avalanches can happen in any mountain range that has an enduring snowpack, and these are more frequent in winter or spring, but may occur at any time of year.
The most important thing when it comes to avalanche safety is to “Get the forecast. Get the training. Get the gear.”
Having a healthy respect for the mountains, and weather conditions at all times is critical.